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EiA urges probe Into Europe’s black market in refrigerant gases.

More than a year after the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) first revealed the extent of the illegal multi-million euro trade in climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in Europe, it is urging the European Public Prosecutor's Office to launch an investigation into the growing black market in greenhouses gases.

As part of a gradual phase down in using HFCs, the F-Gas Regulation limited the volume of these greenhouse gases on the market cutting the supply by 37 per cent in 2018, which caused prices to skyrocket and fuelled a lucrative black market across Europe. More recently, Romania has been identified by EIA as a major gateway for HFC smuggling

The EIA report Europe's Most Chilling Crime, first released in July 2021, exposed how illegal cylinders of Chinese-made HFCs entered Romania via Ukraine and Turkey and were then shipped around the continent through courier services and in the luggage compartments of transnational coaches.

'Despite giving Romanian law enforcement our evidence 12 months ago, no action appears to have taken place,' said EIA senior climate campaigner Fionnuala Walravens. 'The illegal trade not only jeopardises the achievement of the EU's climate objectives, but it has also resulted in the loss of approximately €77 million a year in VAT and customs duties.

“So, in a first for EIA, we are now asking the European Public Prosecutor's Office, which exists to protect EU taxpayers’ money from criminals, to investigate this growing black market in greenhouses gases.'

EIA’s investigation compared data reported under the EU F-Gas Regulation with trade data and other multiple information sources, estimating that the volume of illegal HFCs smuggled into the EU amounted to between 20-30 per cent of the legal trade.

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